We are on the move this year with our soundtrack for the holidays: Shoes on, Netflix off and let’s walk together into the new year!
With our WALK’N’CHILL soundtrack for the holidays, we’re certainly not keeping still this year. A walk is a firm fixture in the holiday schedule, and we’re walking to the beat into the new year, too. As we do so, we’ll reflect on the winter landscapes and the winter season, on the snow and snowflakes, and on the emotional and melancholy moments that the darker months tend to bring. Ultimately, we’re also pretty happy that Christmas is over, and we can look ahead to New Year’s Eve. With a brief musical detour into the midnight witching hour, we’re running full tilt into the new year with a fresh swing in our step, free of the tinsel ballast.
The darker, colder season is the subject of many a song, even aside from the upbeat Christmas hits. One example is when it amplifies the absence of a very special loved one or a partner in general. Smith & Burrows emphasize this in their melancholy yet warm, melodious ballad “As the Snowflakes Fall”. Sting, too, misses his loved one in the comparatively bleaker song “Hounds of Winter”, while in “Wintertime”, Norah Jones muses on how she’s just fine on her own in all the seasons except winter. For her, the lack of natural light makes the absence of the light and warmth a partner radiates all the more palpable.
Duke Ellington and John Coltrane, meanwhile, teamed up in 1963 to make an album that includes “In A Sentimental Mood”. It may not be a specifically winter composition, but the vocals bring to mind candlelight and warming whisky after a long walk. The song is much older than the collaboration, as Ellington composed it in 1935 for a big band lineup.
As much as this soundtrack aims to stay off the beaten sled tracks, “Winter Wonderland” by Bing Crosby is an essential when it comes to the theme of winter walks. He lays down the perfect swing for stepping outside the door. While here a snowman becomes “Mr Parson Brown” to conclude the marriage, in “Walking in the Air” a snowman takes young James on a flight to the far north of Norway on Christmas Eve. The film adaptation of the picture book “The Snowman” by Raymond Briggs was scored by Blake Howard, and his track “Walking in the Air” has since become a classic in the British Christmas song repertoire.
Kate Bush likewise takes a supernatural perspective. In “Snowflake”, she teams up with her son Bertie McIntosh to sing a dialog between a snowflake (“I was born in a cloud / Now I am falling / I want you to catch me”) and a human on Earth (“The world is so loud / Keep falling / I'll find you”). In 2011 Bush released the album “50 Words For Snow”, featuring a song of the same name that lists 50 different words for snow. How many can you bring to mind?
Anyone who has had enough of Christmas will enjoy Hurts: “All I Want For Christmas Is New Year’s Day”. So we wait for midnight and the new year. It might be a quiet wait – without firecrackers and, as it may be, without a big party. The perfect moment, therefore, to look up into the clear night sky and feel at one with all the other particles of cosmic dust. Musically, this moment is underpinned by Mazzy Star’s “Into Dust”, and we remain in a reflective mood with Coldplay’s “Midnight”, a metaphor for the dark, difficult times we all have to go through at some point (“In the swirling of the storm /.../ leave a light, a light on”). Could the light be 2022? Yes! Wake up! Let’s get out of our heads and into more glitter and groove with Leanne La Havas and Jesse Ware singing about the zero hour – “Can you meet me in the midnight?”.
January 1. Always foggy somehow. Yet here, again, the ban on firecrackers and the recommended abstinence from intoxication may help: We’re starting the new year with unusual clarity and foresight. Open the door and go for a New Year’s walk! Take it easy with Dionne Warwick’s “Walk on By”, or those with more energy can coolly overtake the Dionne Warwicks of this world with the words “walk this waaaay / just give me a kiss / like this”.
walk this waaaay / just give me a kiss / like this
Soon at the SCHIRN
By February 18, we will then all have warmed up and filled with curiosity will be stepping cheerfully through the SCHIRN rotunda directly into the WALK! exhibition. See you there, and happy New Year!